Today was the first day of Missouri’s legislative session, our 96th since we became a state in 1821. This year, more than half of the Representatives will be serving in state government for the first time. As I watched them take the oath of office, I thought about the big challenges we will all face in the months ahead.
As Secretary of State, it’s my duty to preside over the House of Representatives until a Speaker is elected. I used that opportunity to remind the incoming legislators that despite representing different parties, regions, constituencies and backgrounds, they all share a common purpose — to ensure a brighter future for Missouri families.
Given the budget challenges facing our state and nation, there is no doubt that the coming months will stir up a lively debate about priorities in Jefferson City. But, you and I both know that we’ve been through tougher times before. By staying focused on the common purpose that unites us — like protecting the things that make Missouri a great place to live, raise a family and find a good job, affordable health care and world-class schools — we’ll meet these challenges as well.
But to do that, we’ve all got to stay engaged and involved. All too often, staying focused on what’s important gets lost in the midst of distracting and divisive political theater. Whether in Jefferson City or Washington, we can’t just hope that our elected leaders will get it right. We need to hold government accountable for results throughout the year…not just at election time.
Thanks and Happy New Year.